Covering The Longest Hostage Standoff In The Nation's
The Lewis Prison is in Buckeye, Arizona ... about an hour
and a half from where I live in Yuma. The closest thing to
a complex is a one street town called Gila Bend. Needless
to say, everyone in that town was on pins and needles during
the fifteen day standoff.
During my first day in Buckeye ... my small station style
was bombarded by crews from Phoenix and Tucson ... and as
the days went on more and more people came. However, every
day I went ... we drove ... got interviews ... got video ...
and got back in the car to make the six o'clock show. It got
interesting, but our peers respected our desire to get the
One of the three spokespeople was from Yuma. Thanksfully,
we already had a trusting working relationship. Yet, the most
challenging part of my reporting was doing the same story
that many days in a row with very few developments. Things,
like one of the inmates standing on top of a tower ... or
a bad of food would be our focus for the day. And, on some
days nothing like that would even happen.
I learned that in this type of situation those people inside
could be watching and listening. So, the best questions I
could ask were for messages for those people inside, like
what would you say to your fellow officer to make them feel
safe? Those answers were always emotional and would help my
viewers feel involved in the story.
During the fifteen days my ethical values were tested. Many
reporters chose to listen to scanners to hear what negotiators
might be saying. But, I chose to respect the requests and
not interfere with negotiations. When it comes down to it,
the survival of those officers was much more important than
my minute package and, I think, viewers understand that too.
Ironically, the day after the longest hostage situation in
the nation's history ended, one started in my small market